Iran’s Sepehr Safari Boroujeni holds off Indian challenge

In a competitive field, which had quite a few Olympic quota holders, the bespectacled Iranian was not considered a heavyweight – his only recognizable success a gold medal at the junior Asian Championships in Kuwait in 2011. Yet, the 23-year-old Sepehr shot like a champion, and had built up a huge margin before the final few shots, affording him with the luxury of a relaxing a little in the end.

Iran's Sepehr Safari Boroujeni, the gold medal winner in the 10m Air Pistol men's event, is flanked by (left) India's Gurpreet Singh (silver) and Jitu Rai (bronze)   -  SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Iran continued to hold sway at the Asian Air Gun Championship, as Sepehr Safari Boroujeni out-paced the star Indian shooters Gurpreet Singh and Jitu Rai for the air pistol gold medal at the Dr. Karni Singh Range in Tughlakabad. Asian Games and World Cup gold medalist Jitu Rai did start very well, after having topped the qualification round with a score of 583, but faltered after ten shots. A perfect 10.9 on the 18th shot was not enough to redeem the earlier mistake and he had to settle for a bronze medal, leaving Gurpreet as the sole challenger to the Iranian.

Gurpreet – a rapid fire pistol specialist, who has won an Olympic quota place in air pistol – had conceded far too much ground to the Iranian, three points at one stage, and 2.1 point before the last two shots and it left him with too long a gap to bridge to fight for the gold medal. The Iranian did shoot a nine and eight in the end, but Gurpreet’s effort, a 10.5, did not help, despite creating some flutter amongst the excited fans.

In a competitive field, which had quite a few Olympic quota holders, the bespectacled Iranian was not considered a heavyweight – his only recognizable success a gold medal at the junior Asian Championships in Kuwait in 2011. Yet, the 23-year-old Sepehr shot like a champion, and had built up a huge margin before the final few shots, affording him with the luxury of a relaxing a little in the end.

Even though Omkar Singh lost out in a shoot-off 9.9 to 10.1 and was placed eighth, he contributed well in helping the Indian trio grab the team gold medal ahead of Kazakhstan, which had Rashid Yunusmetov and Vladimir Issachenko, who were placed fifth and sixth in the individual field.

There was an individual gold medal for the host in the junior event, but Sumedh Kumar’s triumph over compatriot Hemendra Kushwah did not lead to much excitement as it was only in a field of five shooters. That, however, didn’t stop the announcer from congratulating Japan’s Shumpei Takahashi, who finished fifth.

Iran dominated the youth section too, with Seyed Jamal Mousavi beating Yi-Chun Chao of Chinese Taipei by 4.5 points to win the gold medal. The Indian shooters, Mohit Gour (557), Shainki Nagar (555) and Samarjit Singh (562) were occupied the next three spots. Dhruv Pran Singh (569) and Vishal Chauhan (564) shot comparatively well in the MQS section. Mohit Gour’s poor score of 87 in the last round, however, pushed India down by a notch and they had to settle for the silver medal in the team event, two points behind Iran.

The results: 10m air pistol: Men: 1. Sepehr Safari Boroujeni (Iri) 198.7 (574); 2. Gurpreet Singh 197.6 (576); 3. Jitu Rai 177.6 (583); 8. Omkar Singh 77.5 (575). MQS: Jitendra Vibhute 577.

Team: 1. India 1734; 2. Kazakhstan 1722; 3. Saudi Arabia 1692.

Juniors: 1. Sumedh Kumar 199.1 (576); 2. Hemendra Kushwah 195.2 (566); 3. Mohamed Ahmed (Ban) 175.2 (552); 4. Achal Pratap Grewal 154.0 (565). MQS: Arjun Das 569; Vismit Praithwan 566.

Youth: 1. Seyed Jamal Mousavi (Iri) 200.4 (564); 2. Yi-Chun Chao (tpe) 195.9 (560); 3. Mohit Gour 176.0 (557); 4. Shainki Nagar 155.2 (555); 5. Samarjit Singh 134.8 (562). MQS: Dhruv Pran Singh 569; Vishal Chauhan 564.

Team: 1. Iran 1676; 2. India 1674; 3. Chinese Taipei 1665.